THE GAME CHANGERS AND THE TOP GUNS IN 2016
It’s impossible to write about everything that’s happened in the year 2016 without first drifting off and staring into space. A lot has happened, folks – A LOT. I mean no offense by this, but all the drama that’s happened in the Nigerian music industry in 2016 is enough to give a year’s content worth of African Magic a run for its money. From Davido and his baby mama drama heralding a new year, to Olamide VS Don Jazzy, to the Tiwa Savage and Tbillz meltdown, to Ubi Franklin and Lilian Esoro’s ‘the more you look the less you see’ marriage, to Oritsefemi’s ‘royal rumble’ saga with an army of bouncers at Quilox nightclub, drama has been in excessive supply. So given this fact, I’d much rather avoid writing on all the drama that has occurred this year and focus on writing on the music instead. We’ve had artistes come in from no where and attempt to change the game; either with a brand new style, a new approach, or a totally revamped never before seen image – these people we refer to as Game Changers. On the other hand we’ve had artistes that have been dominating the charts for so long that it’s pretty much what we’ve come to expect. Their consistency and versatility have rubbed off on us so much that we EXPECT them to hit; we expect them to trend – we expect them to constantly ‘blow’ with a retinue of back to back hits. This is due to no fault of ours or theirs but due to the standard these elite group of artistes have set for themselves. We refer to them as the Top Guns in the industry. At this point in time, it is worthy of note that in the Nigerian music industry there is no more middle ground; no one is safe. You snooze, you lose! Mystreetz magazine is proud to present to you all the key players on the chess board that is the Nigerian Music Industry; the Top Guns and the Game Changers. It’s the year 2016 in review, enjoy!
THE GAME CHANGERS IN 2016
When I first heard this guy’s music I was very confused. One question kept ringing in my head: Isn’t this Apalla music? I mean it sounded like Apalla music but not really, not completely. It was something else; it was innovation. I was listening to an artiste who had completely embodied a brand of music that some would term ‘local’ and I find that there is a distinctive shock value stemming from Terry’s confident song writing and succinct interpolation of English and Yoruba lyrics with uncanny ease. He’s not just changing the game, he’s redefining a genre. He has taken something old and repackaged in a shiny new wrapper for us to enjoy. Whatever he’s selling, I’m definitely buying. “Number One”, statement worthy electro-jazzy “Modernize”, the uber laid back “Mo Popular”, and the more recently Sess produced underground hit “Champagne Shower” are some of his works you might want to check out. His ancestors would be so proud of him.
In a country where things can sometimes appear to be so dreary, Humblesmith’s “Osinachi” shot into our collective consciousness like a ray of sunshine, giving us a reason to be truly hopeful. It was an up tempo, gyrating song mixed with a little bit of highlife, with a sound that makes you want to bob your head and tap your feet. It spoke about God, and rising from poverty to prosperity, and unmerited favour, the kind of things the average Nigerian can relate and aspire to. Something truly special was happening to all of us even though we didn’t know it at the time. So accepted was the song that it later won a nomination spot at the 2016 Nigeria Entertainment Awards and was also nominated in the “Hottest Single” category at the same event. In April 2016, he featured Flavour N’abania in a song titled “Jukwese” which enjoyed rotational airplay around the country. He also released “Na U” featuring Harrysong. This singer who cites Bright Chimezie as his music influence has grabbed the industry by the balls and doesn’t seem like he’s willing to let go anytime soon.
Mayorkun arrived on the scene like a man on a mission, a man who had fate in his corner, releasing the smash hit “Eleko” back in April which gained such an acceptance he couldn’t possibly have anticipated. The song garnered over 3 million YouTube hits, a feat not usual for an artiste premiering his debut single. Not too long ago we wrote a piece, ‘Mayorkun: A fluke or the real deal?’ His response to that piece is a couple of banging singles such as ‘Yawa” and my personal favourite “Love You Tire”. Mayorkun seems to know what the audience craves, and with O.B.O solidly behind this crooner, the future is looking really bright.
When I first listened to “Ìréti”, I can tell you that my spirit left my body for a second. Was this done by a Nigerian? It couldn’t be – and so I looked him up quickly before the thought escaped me. His name is Moelogo, and this seriously talented maestro is one of the most exciting artistes coming out of the UK, fusing his African heritage into British urban music to glorious effect. On the back of a breakthrough 2015, which culminated in him being nominated for ‘Best African Act’ at the MOBO Awards, and ‘Diaspora Artist of the Year’ at the NEA Awards, with collaborations with Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32, Avelino, Sneakbo, and Geko among others, British Nigerian Afrobeat artiste Moelogo debuted his long-awaited sophomore EP titled “Ìréti”, a perfectly rounded 5-track affair boasting tracks such as “Penkele”, “Plenty Plenty “, “Some Say”, “Ìréti” and “My City”. Moelogo is the REAL DEAL. You can take this statement to the bank and make a withdrawal.
Fun fact: An owambe is not an owambe until Koker’s “Do Something” is played. I kid you not. In Lagos? Especially if the DJ is a ‘man wey sabi’? He must play it! Such is the power of the music of this crooner who draws musical inspiration from the likes of Sir Shina Peters and Ebenezer Obey. He followed it up with the smash hit “Kolewerk”, a song that in many ways became a street anthem given its massive appeal among the youths. And then came “Give Them”. Here, he gives the fans exactly what they want – a full on club banger that will get you dancing like you hit the jackpot at 9ja Bet. It would be interesting to see the trajectory of Koker’s career over the next few years – he’s onto something.
Tjan has one of those voices that just makes you stop whatever you’re doing to simply listen. His journey into music began with the tentative release of the track “Ire” sometime in 2014, then he switched up and released the beautifully rendered “Temi”. However, it was his single “Aduke” that reminded me that Tjan is still a budding force to be reckoned with. From his delivery, to his lyricism, to the sheer beauty in his vocals. To top it all off, he had the musical genius, Cobhams Asuquo, collaborate with him on this particular joint! He recently dropped a new one titled “Meji” featuring Ycee, a track I simply can’t get enough of.
It will be deemed an act of incompetence and extreme bias if any Awards or Countdown, considering the level of work he has put into the industry in the year 2016, does not reward Mr. 2kay either with an award, nomination or listed as one of the most influential artistes. If an artiste personifies the true story of from grass to grace in the Nigerian music industry in recent times, Abiye David Jumbo a.k.a Mr. 2kay is the only one that ticks that box. All through the year 2016, he did deliver some of the best songs that will be considered as part of the soundtrack of this year. Songs like ‘Count it all Joy’, ‘Ladder’, ‘Woods’ and ‘In the morning’, will be considered among the impressive releases of 2016. The singer has sealed a major endorsement deal with popular American liquor brand, Christian Brothers Brandy. According to representatives and sole distributors of the American brandy in Nigeria, Hart G Associates Ltd, Mr. 2kay fits the perspective of the ideal ambassador for Christian Brothers Brandy. His tenacity and success illustrates the passion and history of their brand. A spokesperson said, “We see a vibrant young artiste in Mr. 2Kay, making an impact in the region with consistency and smooth delivery of content in his music that aligns with the smooth and rich product of Christian Brothers brandy’
I’ll start by saying that this cat’s name is a paradox because he definitely isn’t taking things easy in the industry AT ALL, and from all observations Mr Eazi is on another level with a new sound that has no competition. It does sound like empty talk until you give his music a listen. Is it also a coincidence that his name ‘Eazi’ somehow rhymes with ‘Wizzy’? I think not. This Star boy act boasts an impressive discography that can make a veteran act jittery. From “Skin Tight” featuring Terry G, “Anointing” featuring Sakordie, “Fre Me”, “Sample You” featuring Lil Kesh, “Shitor”, “Hollup” featuring Joey B and Dammy Krane, it’s obvious Wizkid has struck gold with this dude.
If I have to be sincere, I am one of those few that have not been bitten by the Reekado Banks bug. This is not due to any inefficiency on his part; it’s just down to the fact that there are too many things happening around this talented artiste in Mavin that you will forgive me for not being patient enough to see that he’s more of the real deal from that record label. Slowly and steadily, Reekado is building an army of followers’ based on his talent and not due to any shenanigans. From ‘Kataput’ to ‘Oluwa Ni’, it will be very hard to count this young man out when 2016 is being reviewed. I must confess now that he’s one of the hardest workers in this industry. He blew me away on his feature on Illbliss’s ‘Jawonlaya’. Oh boy, this homeboy is talented.
Niniola brings out that deep old school vibe, mixes it with new school, then serves it piping hot with the her impeccable vocals. She delivers emotion-clad, message-filled lyrics which slither perfectly through whatever beat she might be lacing her vocals with which are always deep, within range and soulful. She made us lose control of our limbs with the sinfully explosive “Ibadi” and repeated the process with the spectacular “Soke”, catapulting us to unknown realms whenever her songs come on. But she can also slow things down like she did in “J’ete”, a soulful ballad that gets you feeling all mushy inside. And have you given “Shaba” and “Jigi Jigi” a listen? You should, Niniola is the proverbial Jack of all trades, only difference is that she is the master of all. My money is sooo on this diva!
This guy!!! Dice Ailes of Nigerian/Ghanaian decent is a versatile Artiste with a Rap/Afro Pop sound. This versatility came to light in his first track “Fantasy”, a jazzy slow to mid tempo jam of life which achieved critical acclaim. He followed this up with “Telephone”, a song which borrows a little from the older generation but manages to retain its very own authentic sound. Then came “Machinery”, a song that made me want to tear up the dancefloor. But it was “Miracle” featuring Lil Kesh that transformed me into a true believer of Dice. Bump “Miracle” at a party and watch the crowd go haywire. His music encapsulates what the new school is all about. What out for this one!
In 2016, If there was one artiste that was able to break into the mainstream music market, from east (Enugu) to West (Lagos), Owoh Chimaobi Chrismathner who goes by the stage name ‘Zoro’ is definitely that artiste. The success of his monster hit ‘Ogene’ travelled like wildfire. Following the foot steps of his predecessors like Mr Raw, Illbliss and the incredible Phyno, the media fell in love with him like one falls in love with one’s first love. The song was a viral success and everyone took notice as we watched the growth of another rising star from the east.
Born on March 20, 1990 in Onitsha, Anambra state, this Nigerian Rapper/Music Producer/Performing Artiste hails from Agwu in Enugu state. Zoro attended Immaculate Conception Primary school and St Mary’s Primary School Onitsha, the location where he shot his last video ‘Achikolo’. He went on to College of The Immaculate Conception CIC Enugu where he and his friends started up a group called ‘United Niggas’. They mimed along to artistes like DMX, 50 Cent and Ludacris at school social events. When they left CIC, his friends stopped and he had a lot of time on his hands so he started writing lyrics and he got featured on a song ‘Owusagi’ by Wizboy, which became a monster hit in that region. After 3 years at Institute Of Management and Technology (IMT) ENUGU, he had already mastered his craft and released his first single ‘Shasha’ where he also featured Wizboy and then he released ‘Obiageli’ and ‘Enyi’ before his breakthrough track ‘042’ and the rest was history. His hit tracks includes: 042 (Enugu State of Mind) Otu (Onitsha State of Mind) Usain bolt, Nekede and the monster hits ‘OGENE’ ft Flavour and ‘ACHIKOLO’ ft Phyno ,with the newest one ‘MABUZA MABUZA’
THE TOP GUNS IN 2016
If there is one thing nobody can take away from Olamide, it is his consistency and dedication to his craft. Just like he had done in the past few years, he has stayed winning by dropping hit after hit and making sure the ‘streetz’ are adequately satiated. His domination-agenda was made possible with the release of tracks such as “Owo Blow” and “Abule Sowo”, but it was the fever-gripping and frenzy-inducing track “Who u epp” featuring Wande Coal and Phyno that shook the streets leading to a proliferation of the use of the phrase, “Who you even EPP sef?” Olamide remains a Top Gun and a King in his very own express lane.
The Kid with the Midas Touch makes the cut presumably without making too much noise. And it did seem like he didn’t make too much noise this year since we only got a few singles like ‘Final (Baba Nla)’ from the crooner which was even released late 2015 and ‘Like This’ which was released sometime in June 2016. However, it was his numerous international collaborations that saw him soar above and beyond from “Mamacita” by Tinie Tempah featuring Wizkid to “U Don’t Know” by Justine Skye featuring Wizkid to “Soweto Baby” by DJ Maphorisa featuring Wizkid. History was made on May 12, 2016, when Drake’s “One Dance” featuring Wizkid reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, inadvertently making Wizkid the first Nigerian artiste to achieve such a feat.
FALZ THE BAHD GUY
As his name implies, this guy is a bad guy working his way up to the pinnacle of his career with what seems like little or no effort on the combination of sheer charisma, original humour, and of course, good music. Today, Falz is a Top Gun in the industry who has come a long way since 2014 when he released his debut studio album titled “Wazup Guy”. In June of 2016, Falz was voted the winner of the “Viewer’s Choice Best New International Act” category at the 2016 BET Awards. On October 27, 2016, Falz collaborated with Simi to release Chemistry , a 7-track EP solely produced by Sess. The EP was released after he had previously worked with Simi on two singles titled “Jamb Question” and “Soldier”. The question on everybody’s lips is “What is Falz going to do next?” I can’t wait to find out.
In 2016, if the Nigerian music industry is to have a bride, Simi is the undisputed candidate. If every thing said in the media is true, how many boyfriends will Simi have up till now? First it was Adekunle Gold, then it was Falz, Ycee’s name can also not be left out of this puzzling ‘love’ triangle (or is it a square now?). These are the ones in the media because the amount of fans in love with Simi is over millions. Who wouldn’t fall in love with one of the best female voices in town? I have been in love with her from the moment I heard the single ‘Tiff’ and I have not been able to get over her as she continues to deliver one hit song after the other all through this year. In case you don’t know, Simi is one of the most sought after sound engineers that has been mixing songs for so many artistes. She mixed the debut album of Adekunle Gold. That was a masterfully made body of work. Despite her tight schedule, she and Falz were able to put out a joint EP titled ‘Chemistry’. Arguably the first time in the history of the country where a male and female artiste jointly put out an album. Simi is like an enigma, the more we see, the more we know, the more she continues to impress us. She’s simply amazing.
Phyno has been a trailblazer with a career trajectory that most of his peers can only dream of. He personified the meaning of the phrase “No Guts No Glory” when after dominating the rap scene along with his buddie Olamide, he switched things up by delving into other genres and excelled remarkably well in them, proving to everyone that he is more than just a rap artiste, but a well rounded musician that thoroughly understands the rudiments of good music. Monster hits like “Fada Fada”, “Pino Pino”, and ‘Connect’ off his sophomore album The Playmaker corroborates the truth we are preaching: Phyno is a Top Gun and he totally dominated the year 2016.
Cynthia Ikponmwenosa Morgan comes through with a style of music that is a fusion of pop, hip hop, dancehall, and rap. She hit the big leagues with “German Juice” back in 2015, a song that shook dance floors from Lagos all the way to Sambisa. While 2015 was generally a good year for the dancehall queen, 2016 was the year of consolidating on the foundation she’d already laid. This consolidation is evident in her works like “Olowo” and “Bubble Bup” featuring BET Award winner and Ghanaian dance hall king, Stonebwoy, which led to the creation of a very unique sound that has held more than a few music lovers enthralled. Cynthia Morgan definitely held it down this year.
It’s hard not to write with a bit of bias when discussing Adekunle Gold, but this guy is simply a simple dude who sings from the heart and knows what GOOD music is. If, last year, you knew the hit song “Sade” but weren’t so sure who sang it, I’m pretty sure you know the answer to that question now. How wouldn’t you? He stepped things up a notch higher, dropping timeless jams from “Ariwo Ko” to “Temptation” to “Work” to “Friend Zone” to “Ready” right down to my personal favourite, “No Forget” featuring Simi. The answer to the question ‘why does Adekunle Gold deserve to be on this list?’ rests in his GOLD album. You should check it out if you haven’t already. It’s simply gold!
If the music industry was a pot of soup, then Alhaji Tekno can be said to be the secret ingredient. In a relatively short time he has managed to evolve his music into a unique sound that is instantly recognizable anywhere. His music is afrocentric and serenades its listener, subtly lowering your inhibition and coercing you into having a good time. What’s even better, he slowly worked his way up from Game Changer to Top Gun, a feat that most of his peers can only dream of. And what’s not to like? Tekno’s discography speaks for itself; from ‘Dance’ to ‘Anything’, from ‘Holiday’ to ‘Wash’, right down to last year’s monster hit ‘Duro’. This year he picked up where he left off, gifting us with “Diana” and yet another mega hit in “Pana”. Like a terrorist, Tekno is blowing things up in the music industry and he hasn’t run out of explosives yet.
Only last year, Ycee shot into the limelight after one of his singles titled “Condo” which featured vocals from Patoranking won him two nominations at the 2015 Nigeria Entertainment Awards. He was also nominated in the “Best Artist in African Pop” category at the 2015 All Africa Music Awards, and then he went on to win the “Rookie of the Year” awards category at the Headies award 2015. Needless to say, 2015 was the year of the Ycee. Not one to be caught sleeping on a bicycle, Ycee has put the pedal to the medal, dropping dope bangers from “Sili Sili Sili” to “Ajaobi” to ‘Ninu Clubi” to “Su Mi” to “Dé Bè Cypher”, thus staking his claim as the future of contemporary rap music in Nigeria
If there’s one rap artiste that has achieved so much but hardly gets the respect or accolades he deserve, that artiste ought to be Reminisce. It’s strange that some of the so called respected music awards have not deemed it fit to reward him with a nomination talk less hand him an award. Reminisce’s grip and influence on the music industry is quite significantly visible to the point that it earns him some of the most mouth-watering endorsement deals in the country today. From Samsung to Origin from the stable of Guinness, Reminisce is like a one man wrecking ball in the industry. Music critics have rated his last two albums excellently. Whether industry heads give him credits for his hard work or not, it will be a grave injustice if anyone will not see Reminisce as one of the Top guns of 2016.
As far back as close to fourteen years, I have witnessed the rise of Harrysong like an unknown scientist working on a project that has changed the landscape of civilization. He was that unknown factor so instrumental to the efforts made by Question Mark records, a company once home to music powerhouses like Cohbams and Asa. Like a company’s trade secret, he was that X-factor helping with vocal training and assisting in writing songs for some of the hits that came out from that record label. I have watched him work on hit songs for some of the biggest artistes which pride will not allow them to come out to say he did. Regarded as one of the best vocalists and songwriters in the industry, Five Star music did not make a mistake when they signed him on immediately he exited from Question Mark. In order not to act like artistes, it will not be hard for me to make my assertion and come to the conclusion that Harry was one of the most important ingredients that have inspired all the successful songs ever served from Five Star Music. Who doesn’t need the right people or ideas to put together a winning team? As a testament to his craft, Harrysong has released songs that will be tagged a masterpiece. While in his first record deal with Question Mark he released the single ‘I’m in love’. Within 2014 when he signed the yearly deal with Five Star Music, he did deliver four club bangers and singalong songs. He released Ofeshe, Beta Pikin, Baba for the Girls, Akagum and the monster hit Reggae Blues. February 20th, 2016 at the Eko Convention centre, with a number of top dignitaries in Nigeria in attendance, amongst them Nuhu Ribadu, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, among others, the Reggae Blues crooner was named the Most Creative Man for the year 2016 at the recently concluded Sun Awards. At the recently concluded AFRIMA, he also won best collaboration for same song Reggae Blues. Indications that Harrysong is one of the best vocalists in this country could be traced back to the year 2014 when he broke the internet with the song ‘Tribute to Mandela’, recorded as the most downloaded song on MTN Plateform. Harrysong success is vindicated as he covers Mystreetz Magazine.